Based on informal information received from ISBE, school districts have more flexibility to adopt their e-learning programs for the 2019-2020 school year, as ISBE has indicated it will not enforce the September 1 e-learning adoption deadline in this first year of implementation.
As many of you know, the Illinois General Assembly took action this summer on a bill that restored both the 5-hour minimum for instructional days and the ability to count parent-teacher conference days toward the mandatory 176 school days. The bill, SB 28, was signed by the Governor and became law on July 1, 2019, as Public Act 101-0012.
That law also amended the School Code provision on e-learning days. Now, school districts with e-learning programs can use e-learning days in lieu of emergency days, but only if they are (1) adopted by school board resolution following a public hearing, and (2) verified by the applicable Regional Office of Education or Intermediate Service Center by September 1 annually.
Given that the law was passed over the summer, leaving little opportunity before the 2019-2020 school year for school districts to plan for e-learning programs and negotiate with their collective bargaining representatives, if applicable, we have received informal information from ISBE that there will be flexibility in the September 1 deadline this school year (i.e., the September 1 deadline will not be enforced). We are aware that some ROEs have issued similar guidance recently to the school districts in their region. Although this is helpful news for all school districts that need additional time to prepare their e-learning programs, we recommend that you individually confirm this interpretation with ISBE unless and until ISBE formally notifies districts of this interpretation.
With this one-time exception to the deadline, school districts that want to implement an e-learning program this school year must, before implementing the first e-learning day:
- Develop a proposal for e-learning days that satisfies the criteria spelled out in Section 10-20.56 of the School Code: https://bit.ly/2Mc4dRM;
- Provide at least 10 days’ notice of the school board hearing on e-learning days by (a) publishing in a newspaper of general circulation in your district, (b) notifying parents in writing, and (c) notifying any union representatives and all non-union employees;
- Conduct a public hearing at a regular or special school board meeting, in which (a) the terms of the e-learning program must be “substantially presented,” and (b) a period of public comment is provided;
- Have your school board adopt the e-learning program by written resolution;
- Submit your e-learning proposal to your applicable ROE or ISC for verification (in future years, this verification will need to be done by September 1);
- If applicable, engage your bargaining representatives concerning the proposed e-learning days; and
- At least 30 days before using an e-learning day, communicate to teachers, staff, and students the protocol regarding general expectations and responsibilities of the e-learning program.
For questions about the necessary approval documents for your e-learning program, contact Jeff Goelitz or Mary Karagiannis. For questions about the bargaining implications of your e-learning program, contact Cindi DeCola or the HLERK attorney who handles your labor negotiations.